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Career Services

Job Seekers: How Is Your Phone Voice?


American Telephone & Telegraph Exhibit - Close-up of girl on phone, Digital ID 1652482, New York Public LibraryIf you are actively looking for work and keep networking and applying for jobs, the phone is bound to start ringing.  For job seekers who have submitted over 100 resumes, getting the phone to ring might seem like an achievement on its own.  In a way, it is, but the end goal is to get a job.  If the employer doesn't get the feeling that you want to hear from them, they may decide to opt for someone in their "to call" pile of resumes who has a friendlier phone manner. 

Here is a list of some of the most common job seeker phone pitfalls:

  • Keeping the generic voicemail greeting.  Employers are usually happy to leave a message with a proposed interview time, but only if they are reasonably sure they are leaving the message on your voicemail.  Include your name, phone number or both in your voice.
  • Trusting message-taking to a 5-year old.  Kids are great, but anyone who has seen the purple and green cows that come out of art class can tell you that they are not all that detail-oriented.  While you might think Joe Junior looks adorable when he picks up the receiver, the recruiter on the other end of the line might not be so amused.  When you are looking for work, try to provide the number for a phone that only you will answer; a cell phone is a great choice.  If you don't have a cell phone or have limited minutes, this may be a good time to ask other people in your household to let the machine get the calls.
  • Starting every conversation with "Who is this?"  Yes, telemarketers and debt collectors are annoying, but as someone who has been on the receiving end of this sort of "greeting," I can assure you that if I were hiring for a job, this response to "May I speak with [your name here]?" puts that person on my thanks-but-no-thanks list.  You want recruiters and managers to be glad they called, not on the verge of apologies for disturbing you.  If it really is not a good time for you to talk, don't pick up the phone.  Screening calls until you feel ready to face the world in a professional manner is much better than giving callers an angry vibe.

When it comes to job hunting, you are your own customer service department.  In all of your interactions over the phone, in-person, and in writing, maintaining a professional and positive tone is crucial.  Do your best to make everyone who has contact with you think, "Wow!  I would love to have that person working for me."  If you're finding it impossible to stay positive, try some of these tips for discouraged job seekers.


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